Airline worker stalks woman on same flight — using phone number on her bag, suit says

A San Diego woman is suing American Airlines, alleging that an employee got her phone number from her luggage tag and stalked and sexually harassed her by sending over 100 text messages.

Ashley Barno says she was boarding a flight to Chicago from the San Diego International Airport and got a text asking how she was, according to messages obtained by McClatchy News.

The person, who is referred to in the lawsuit as John Doe, said, “Btw I must tell you that you are gorgeous! I think you didn’t remember me, I work for the airline!!”

Barno learned that the man, who said his name was “Ahmad,” was on the same flight as her, according to The Washington Post. He admitted that he got her phone number from her bag tag and asked if she wanted to sit next to him.

Texts from an American Airlines employee to Ashley Barno.

Texts from an American Airlines employee to Ashley Barno.

Texts from an American Airlines employee to Ashley Barno.

When she said no and asked him to leave her alone, he replied, “Friendship with me will be very beneficial for you!! I can always give you good seats, access to the lounges and free flights too!! You can think about it!” he wrote, adding in later messages, “Just looking for one chance to prove my self!! I will be very respectful to you always.”

Barno told a flight attendant about the messages and the attendant reassured her, saying they would stay seated away from each other on the plane, according to The Washington Post. When the plane landed in Chicago, Barno said security guards escorted the man from the plane and the flight attendant told her that it wasn’t “the first time he’s done something like this,” Joseph Samo, her attorney, said.

The lawsuit alleges that American Airlines “knew of its employee’s propensity to inappropriately contact its customers yet continued to retain him as an employee.”

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“The employee involved in the complaint is no longer employed at American Airlines,” airline spokesman Joshua Freed told The Washington Post. “American Airlines takes the privacy and safety of our customers seriously. We investigated the allegations and took appropriate action.”

Barno is suing for “negligent hiring, supervision, and retention, sexual harassment, stalking, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

Story continues

“A victim can be shaken up and traumatized for months after an event,” Samo told McClatchy News in a statement. “It seems to us that American Airlines felt the situation was resolved when she returned safely back to San Diego. I don’t believe they realized the emotional effect would last much longer than the threat to her physical safety.”

The suit also says that the man kept her phone number and “did not stop contacting her for a long period of time, and also sent her sexually-suggestive images.”

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